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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-19, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Best Audio Ripping Settings?

I have found streaming radio stations off the internet sucks, a lot of the time, partly because:

Even just playing any AUDIO through or with a computer - is of poor quality (generally). That has been my personal experience and observations.

Any AUDIO, including STREAMING - off a computer - is of questionable quality - just listening to it.

Digital skips, hiccups, dropouts, clicks, interruptions, sound variations - all sorts of whacky effects.

I think a lot of it is due to the SOFTWARE or OPERATING SYSTEM or the computer's other numerous processes that are running in the background interrupting the playing of the audio - causing the overall quality of the audio product to be "POOR"

Too many variables - with the computer hardware and software generally available to the average user. ex. Sound Card, amp inside, noise generated internally by all the digital hardware in close proximity, A/D D/A conversion - perhaps not of best quality or design.

Your average computer hardware and software are not generally optimized to put out excellent quality, uninterrupted AUDIO - via streaming - or even for the playback of resident music files.

Then there are the issues of the delivery of the quality digital audio stream over the internet. Many variables.

[ So I will agree with the OP - wherever possible, for LOCAL or Nearby stations - listen to it with a GOOD FM Radio / good FM home STEREO component setup / good Speakers and proper antenna setup]

Perhaps there are some IT / Computer / Internet specialists here who can provide some advice on what the "best" computer setups might be - that give the best AUDIO quality without the BAD effects I mention.

Just generally speaking - my personal experience with the AUDIO quality coming from any consumer computer equipment - is Mediocre - and full of issues and problems - clearly hearable just by listening... compared with listening to quality music over a good quality traditional HI-FI sound system - which is DEDICATED and designed to producing good quality AUDIO sound.


Others ... Audiophiles and Computer Experts are welcome to add their experiences, opinions, comments, and advice.

Bye now .
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-19, 11:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrvanwinkles
Any AUDIO, including STREAMING - off a computer - is of questionable quality - just listening to it.
This statement is particularly amusing when you consider that practically all music these days is recorded/mastered on a computer.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-20, 12:05 AM
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Quote:
Even just playing any AUDIO through or with a computer - is of poor quality (generally).
Some of the best audio quality I get is through the computer. That include DTS surround from video discs and music from HD audio files that can be purchased on the internet. The HDMI audio pass through from a PC is as good as any other source, provided the right software and hardware is used. Don't blame the system for the lousy quality of the sources. Low bit rate MP3 and WMA files sound like crap on any audio device, regardless of its capabilities.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-20, 05:50 PM
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Best Audio Ripping Settings?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrvanwinkles
Others ... Audiophiles and Computer Experts are welcome to add their experiences, opinions, comments, and advice.
1. Rip your music to >=192kbps MP3, or comparable bitrate for other lossy formats.
2. On-board sound cards that are built into motherboards often have noisy analog outputs. Use a USB-based audio output or perhaps something like SPDIF when connecting to your stereo or a pair of headphones (of reasonable quality).

So, for example, these headphones with this headphone amp should produce excellent sound quality.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-20, 06:04 PM
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1. For best results rip to a lossless format such as FLAC. If space is an issue on portable players, us a program such as MediaMonkey to transcode a playlist to MP3.

2. Use S/PDIF or HDMI whenever possible. For analog, use a motherboard or sound card with HD Audio. Modern motherboard HD Audio is actually pretty good. Pay attention to the chipset used. Some are better than others and will outperform some discrete cards. Expensive audio cards may have better analog specs but if you need that good a quality, audio pass-through with S/PDIF or HDMI will sound better for less money.

3. Remember that the sound is only as good as the source. Playing a low bit rate source on a high end piece of equipment will sound very bad. CDs have an average bit rate of about 1Mbps (1000Kbps.) Despite common claims of "CD quality" for lower bit rates, anything less will sound worse than a CD. To get really good sound, higher bit rates are required. SACD and DVD Audio supply significantly higher bit rates. Studio master tapes are significantly higher again. Uncompressed formats such as DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD found on Blu-ray discs are required to get studio quality sound.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-20, 06:23 PM
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ExDilbert, what's the point of ripping to a lossless format over a lossy format when humans cannot tell the difference? The advantage of a lossy format is that you can store more songs on the same amount of flash memory on your device(s).

http://blog.codinghorror.com/conclud...te-experiment/
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-20, 06:41 PM
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Assuming that reference is credible, there must be superhumans then. Some people can tell the difference. It also depends on the equipment used. Something that is not noticeable on a cheap or modified player can be very apparent on a high end sound system. Many MP3 players and car radios have the high end rolled off to hide defects in the equipment or the source. That's not typically done with household A/V systems.

In any event, lossy means just that. Information is lost on that recording. That usually shows up as missing or distorted high frequencies and/or lost dynamic range. I can put up with it for streamed music. For archiving, lossless makes more sense. Like I said, files can be transcoded to a lossy format on the fly to make them smaller for portable devices.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-20, 07:30 PM
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It seems there are a lot of people who have a golden ear. That is, of course until their ear is put to the test.

I did a similar experiment with two friends of mine in a recording studio with very high end gear. This was back ~15 years ago, and we were talking about getting rid of our CD collections and ripping everything to MP3. The question was: what bit rate should we use?

Put simply, we couldn't tell the difference after 160kbps, so we ripped our CD collections at 192kbps just to "be safe". We did the blind testing where someone puts on a set of high end headphones, spins around, and someone else plays the different encoded versions (all compared to the original WAV file). Of course, we only had 3 participants in the test, so it wasn't as statistically interesting.

I like the Coding Horror example because it had over 3,500 participants, which is a much larger participant group than any other I've seen on the subject. Do you have any test cases that showed different results? I haven't seen a single example where the participants were able to tell the difference between 160kbps and higher bitrates, let alone lossless.

I've seen this experiment reproduced a handful of times and getting pretty consistent results. Therefore, whenever someone claims to be able to tell the difference, I consider that to be a extraordinary claim, and I'd ask them to produce evidence.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-20, 10:07 PM
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For good background reading, previous discussions about ideal digital recordings have taken place in the following threads, amongst others:

Lossless Audio

What is the best digital music format?

Do you still like vinyl records?

Free Lossless Audio Codec



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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-20, 10:39 PM
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PC Hardware has improved, but also been handcuffed

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrvanwinkles
Just generally speaking - my personal experience with the AUDIO quality coming from any consumer computer equipment - is Mediocre - and full of issues and problems - clearly hearable just by listening...
Motherboards and power supplies used to be part of the problem with flawed audio rips in the past, but the situation has improved hugely so the age of the HTPC's hardware is important for quality rips.

Also if you have a Linux HTPC with an available PCI slot you can buy pre-Vista 24-bit audio cards that feature both SPDIF-IN and SPDIF-OUT jacks for performing D-A, D-D, and A-D rips. Years ago I bought up a few of those cards on clearance just as MS was forcing them out of existence. They continue to work beautifully and they can be found from the usual online sources, while PCI slots are still around on many new mobos.

Ripping to FLAC (lossless) means that you can re-rip from that FLAC file to any format/settings you choose afterwards.




Last edited by stampeder; 2015-03-21 at 12:32 AM.
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-20, 11:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stampeder
Ripping to FLAC (lossless) means that you can re-rip from that FLAC file to any format/settings you choose afterwards.
That doesn't make sense. Ripping means you're transferring the data off of the original storage medium (i.e. the CD) to your hard drive, usually as a WAV file.

I think the word you're looking for is transcode. If you have FLAC files you can transcode to another audio format since transcoding from MP3 to, say, AAC would result in noticeable quality loss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stampeder
Also if you have a Linux HTPC with an available PCI slot you can buy pre-Vista 24-bit audio cards that feature both SPDIF-IN and SPDIF-OUT jacks for performing D-A, D-D, and A-D rips.
Wouldn't it be easier/cheaper/better to just use a SPDIF port on the motherboard and send the audio data to your amplifier/receiver that way? I imagine SPDIF would be good enough for any audiophile, and (I just checked) all my motherboards in my desktop PCs this room have one, so I imagine they're pretty common.
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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-20, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audacity
I think the word you're looking for is transcode.
Yep, but the word "rip" is generically appropriate too. Semantics. Anyways...

With a Linux-based card featuring SPDIF-IN and SPDIF-OUT you can do whatever you want with your own digital audio streams, without DRM messing with things. I highly recommend it for making perfect copies which you can save to FLAC, from which you can re-rip/transcode to your heart's desire afterwards in a wide variety of formats. Of course ripping from CD/DVD is handled in a variety of software apps too.



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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-21, 12:10 AM
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DV to the rescue for DAC

Just adding that one time when I needed to do an analogue capture while my available HTPC audio-in ports were being used I took my old Sony video camera and plugged in the audio player's RCA output jacks into an adapter and then into the camera, then I plugged the camera into one of the Firewire-1394 ports. I hit record on the camera and then paused it, so the camera did the DAC for me in real time and I was able to do the capture with Kino that way in 16-bit stereo, saving it in FLAC. Having said that, the camera's audio sampling specs are a bit low by today's standards although the bitrate is raw and huge, as seen in these specs from a DV file:
Code:
AUDIO_RATE=32000
AUDIO_NCH=2 (Stereo)
AUDIO_CODEC=pcm
AUDIO_BITRATE=1024000



Last edited by stampeder; 2015-03-21 at 12:27 AM.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-21, 12:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stampeder
With a Linux-based card featuring SPDIF-IN and SPDIF-OUT you can do whatever you want with your own digital audio streams, without DRM messing with things
Sticking with the correct definition of ripping digital audio (i.e. from original media, a CD) when would you ever encounter DRM?
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 2015-03-21, 12:20 AM
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You would encounter DRM-based driver problems running those cards on any Microsoft OS since Vista. Ain't possible, no way, no how. Linux runs them beautifully.

About semantics: if black is truly white, then I'll get into such discussions with you. Not now though.



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